Canadian student reaches for the stars

NEW BRUNSWICK, Canada — It can be difficult to balance fishing competitively and going to college, but I’ve found one way to make it easier: Live way up North!

I go to New Brunswick Community College in Canada, and being here — with a 3-foot layer of ice on the water — gives me the whole winter to concentrate 100 percent on my engineering degree.

Bass fishing has always been a way of life in my family. From the time I could walk, I was going bass fishing with my father, mostly pre-fishing for tournaments. My dad, Jeff Hanley, has been tournament fishing in Canada for more than 30 years, and the “bass fever” was bound to rub off on me!

At the age of 10, I started fishing team events with my dad. Since then, fishing tournaments has been my life, from the time April hit when the ice was gone to late October when bass season ended.

The last couple years, I have really discovered what kind of angler I am, and I usually can dial in and adjust to the condition. Last season, I fished 15 tournaments, including two wins and four Top 10s.

I journeyed to Florida in March to take a break from the cold weather and spent some time fishing with my friend and fellow Mercury pro John Cox. He knows the bodies of water in central Florida better than anyone, in my opinion.

We started out early in the mornings on the St. Johns River, and started bed fishing — with a lot of success! When the afternoons hit, we headed to a smaller lake where the bass were on fire, and we caught a ton of big bass.

It was my first time fishing the St. Johns with him, and I promise, I will be back!

Florida really was a good way to break up the winter months, between the trip and playing Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing. It kept me motivated until our bass season opens!

My dream, like most bass anglers, is to fish the Bassmaster Classic and make the Elite Series. It is the pinnacle of the sport!

This 2014 tournament season should be the best yet! I have the ultimate team backing me, with Anglers Choice, WooDoo Customs, and Denali Rods. I plan to fish the Molson Mercury Bass tour full-time, as well as serve as one of the directors. Also, I will be fishing the Berkley B1 Open, Canada’s biggest tournament. And I will be competing in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens presented by Allstate, rooming with and practicing with my Florida buddy, John Cox.

This is just a stepping stone to what is, hopefully, a career in the sport of bass fishing. It is my dream, and I am going for it. I hope you all follow me on my journey, as I will be posting reports regularly as well as writing tips for Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing.

Good luck to you this season, too!